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We promote, protect and support the interests of our members in all aspects of their working lives. We are working for an equitable, accessible public health care system that meets the needs of all New Zealanders.

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Senior doctors call for strong clinical voice to lead health reforms

23 September 2021 ASMS Media Release

The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists Toi Mata Hauora welcomes the appointment of one of its members to the interim board of Health New Zealand, saying the voice of frontline clinicians must be heard as the Government pushes forward with sweeping health reform.

Dr Curtis Walker, who is also the Chair of the Medical Council, has been named as one of eight members of Health New Zealand which, along with the Māori Health Authority, will lead the establishment of the new health system.

ASMS Executive Director Sarah Dalton says as a working hospital doctor, Dr Walker can bring a unique clinical perspective to the group’s work.

ASMS believes the scale and timeframe for the implementation of the reforms will pose a formidable challenge.

“It’s fair to say there is both scepticism and trepidation among senior doctors about whether the reforms will actually make a difference to their lived reality of unsustainable workloads, staffing shortages and overstretched services and whether, ultimately, they can deliver improved patient care,” Sarah Dalton says.

“You can change structures all you like but at the end of the day our health system needs to be about patient care and that requires ongoing investment and the right resources in the right places”.

Sarah Dalton says the senior medical workforce is key to making the reforms work.

“Senior doctors and dentists need strong signals that they are valued. They must be given the opportunity to share their views frankly and take a leading role in decision-making at both the national and local level”.

ASMS publicly supported the Māori Health Authority with full commissioning rights as a new pathway to deliver health equity for Māori.

“We look forward to meeting and working with both the Māori Health Authority and Health NZ teams and remind them that ongoing engagement and consultation with health unions will be critical,” Sarah Dalton says.